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According to me

October 25, 2019

There was a bit of a Twitter conversation going on today about somebody’s local bookshop not stocking PG Wodehouse novels because, the proprietor apparently said, nobody buys them. Lots of people expressed outrage, disbelief etc; and Berkeley Bookstore of Paris tweeted that Wodehouse novels disappear very swiftly from their shelves: ‘According to me, his books have wings!’

Berkeley Bookstore is an American concern. I don’t know whether the author of that tweet is French, or has simply lived so long in Paris that they are forgetting their English. But you can’t say ‘According to me’. In French the word is selon (selon moi, selon lui, selon eux etc as the case may be) which is usually translated into English as ‘according to’. That’s all right for him or her or them, but it doesn’t work in the first person. The English phrase according to implies some distance from, if not scepticism towards, the view being referred to. It means something like: ‘His view (which I don’t necessarily agree with) is…’ Obviously, one can hardly say ‘My view (which I don’t necessarily agree with) is…’ Well, you could, but it would suggest a somewhat conflicted personality.

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One Comment
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    Any bookshop not stocking P.G.Wodehouse doesn’t deserve the name. One can imagine Jeeves giving “that gentle cough of his which sounds like a well bred sheep clearing its throat on a distant mountain top” before pointing out the error of their ways.

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